On Friday, all packed and ready to evacuate, I rushed for a late afternoon pedicure, determined to preserve a bit of normalcy. I spent the evening before evacuation at the SHAMc Happy Hour, where I painted a rock with the letters S-A-F-E in bright colors; a gift for my hostess for offering me a safe haven.
Images of Hurricane Harvey’s flood waters with people awaiting rescue on rooftops fueled my fear with the impending arrival of Irma. This could become my reality, and for the first time ever, I feared for my life.
Both fear and faith are belief in the unknown. I made a decision to choose faith and to harness the fear into preparedness. The approaching hurricane elicited the primordial fight or flight response. A local friend immediately “adopted” me into her family, inviting me to her home on high ground. Faith and peace kicked in.
An unexpected shift in Irma’s direction caused a last minute evacuation out of the Harbor on the morning of the hurricane. While driving to Orlando, my friend and I shared secrets of mystical encounters. The primordial kicked in again. Armed with our SAFE rock talisman, and the protective spirits of our grandmas in heaven, I was once again enveloped by peace. I knew we would be OK.
That night, Irma swerved to the left. Her fury was subdued to a CAT one, and we slept peacefully as she passed overhead.
I awoke with overwhelming gratitude. “I’m alive! That’s all that matters! Thank you!” Reduced to basic survival mode, Irma brought me in touch with what I value most: the blessings of family and friends, shelter, food, water and a cell phone to communicate with the outside world. And oh yes—wine and Oreo cookies.
Days into the aftermath, the initial high of just being alive can subside. Roughing it and the sense of adventure begins wearing thin after a couple of days of no ac or hot shower, with peanut butter as your main staple. Relief and gratitude may become mixed with disappointment, crankiness and frustration. It’s important to realize that these uncomfortable emotions are normal. Most importantly, we must not take these feelings out on those we love.
We were told that loss of power was widespread. Yet I say, we lost electricity, but we most definitely did not lose our power. Throughout the hurricane and its aftermath, we retained and amplified our power of love, compassion and generosity as we reached beyond our own needs. We strengthened our power of community, interdependence, and resiliency as people opened up their homes offering food, showers, and wifi to friends and strangers alike. We displayed the power of generosity, kindness and inclusion, as people from diverse walks of life hunkered down in shelters and shared whatever provisions they had.
Looking forward to the days when life returns to normal, I am sure that the goodness displayed in times of hardship will be remembered and magnified by our Safety Harbor community.
written by Amy Bryant, Safety Harbor resident blogger
Author of You CAN Go Home Again